Q. I’m about to purchase an iMac desktop computer. Are they as good as the old ones? I have an old MacBook on which I use AppleWorks. Will a new Mac convert it to a current word-processing program?
A. Apple regularly updates its computers with faster processors, sharper screens and slicker software, so buying a new iMac gets you a machine that’s technically better than an older model. However, you may have an adjustment period with the new hardware and the new operating system if you have not upgraded in several years. The Migration Assistant program included with new Macs can also help you move your files from the old machine to the new one, but older software may not run on a modern Mac.
The old AppleWorks collection of office and art programs was officially retired more than 10 years ago, replaced by Apple’s iWork suite. That software has evolved into three free programs (a word processor called Pages, spreadsheet software called Numbers and the Keynote presentation application) that work on Macs, on iOS devices and within a web browser. You get the current version of the programs on your new Mac when you buy it, but depending on the version of AppleWorks you were using, you may have some trouble opening the older files with the new software.
If you were using AppleWorks 6 and saved all your files in that version of the program, you can try to open them with the current iWork programs, but files in AppleWorks 5 or earlier are not compatible. Just double-clicking on an AppleWorks document icon from files you have copied over probably will not work, but try opening the Pages program first, then going to the File menu to Open and selecting an AppleWorks file (or an older iWork file) in the window to see if it cooperates and opens. If it does, choose Save As from the File menu to save the old document in the newer Pages format.
The Numbers and Keynote programs may be able to open AppleWorks spreadsheets and presentations the same way. If the files will not open, you may be able to convert them to newer formats by opening them within the open-source LibreOffice suite, which has a good reputation for cracking open files in outdated formats.
You can also check the Mac App Store or around the web for a text-utility program that can extract the words from the file from the garbled formatting code. The TextEdit app, which comes with your Mac, may be able to open the file so you can copy the content into a Pages file.
If the older computer and version of AppleWorks you have been using are still operational, you could also prepare your files for transfer ahead of time and export them right from AppleWorks into more flexible formats that newer programs can easily open. With AppleWorks 6 word-processing documents, for example, you can save them as plain text, HTML files, rich-text format (.rtf) files or Microsoft Word files.
Continue reading the main story